New Teacher Center Symposium: Focusing on great teaching

The New Teacher Center is a US-based non-profit that was recommended to SVA when we were looking for ‘Bright Spot’ programs and approaches that improve retention and enhance practices and student outcomes for early career teachers working in disadvantaged schools.

New Teacher Center (NTC) is dedicated to improving student learning by accelerating the effectiveness of new teachers and school leaders. NTC’s induction programs include one-on-one mentoring and professional development, all taking place within school environments that support new teachers. NTC has broad reach, is well-received by teachers, improves retention and has a positive impact on student outcomes (see a recent SVA case study outlining the model here).

I was pleased to attend the NTC annual Symposium in San Francisco in March, accompanied by senior bureaucrats from the NSW Department of Education and Communities. Here are my top takeaways from the Symposium:

1. An education system relies on the effectiveness of its teachers

2. High-quality induction programs and instructional mentoring accelerates teacher effectiveness

3. The best mentors are selected from highly effective teachers and specifically trained

4. Three dispositions of great teachers and mentors are: Curiosity + Persistence + Reflection

5. An essential ingredient in any mentoring program is clear formative assessment tools

6. Full-time mentors who work with 12-15 teachers every week are better than part-time mentors

7. To measure and evaluate mentoring programs you need to collect two types of data:

a. Implementation data (scale and program quality), and

b. Impact data (teacher retention, teacher practice and student learning)

8. Many districts and education systems have doubts about the long term financial sustainability of the NTC programs

9. Improving induction and mentoring will help drive quality in the profession and lift the status of teachers

10. To access all of these benefits, we must move beyond Day 1 orientation and buddies who provide shoulders to cry on as a substitute for induction and instructional mentoring